After a while, he noticed that some people had gathered at the bow of the boat, pressing against the railings. They were pointing up, into the sky. Some of them had pulled out phones.
‘There’s something going on,’ Mick said.
‘I can see it,’ Andrea answered. She touched the side of his face, steering his view until he was craning up as far as his neck would allow. ‘It’s an aeroplane.’
Mick waited until the glasses picked out the tiny, moving speck of the plane etching a pale contrail in its wake. He felt a twinge of resentment towards anyone still having the freedom to fly, when the rest of humanity was denied that right. It had been a nice dream while it lasted, flying. He had no idea what political or military purpose the plane was serving, but it would be an easy matter to find out, were he that interested. The news would be in all the papers by the afternoon. The plane wouldn’t just be overflying this version of Cardiff, but his as well. That had been one of the hardest things to take since Andrea’s death. The world at large steamrolled on, its course undeflected by that single human tragedy. Andrea had died in the accident in his world, she’d survived unscathed in this one, and that plane’s course wouldn’t have changed in any measurable way (in either reality).
‘I love seeing aeroplanes,’ Andrea said. ‘It reminds me of what things were like before the moratorium. Don’t you?’
‘Actually,’ Mick said, ‘they make me a bit sad.’
(excerpt from Signal to Noise, copyright 2006)